Competition between companies looking to hire graduates has heated up in recent years. In 2015 over 1000 graduate roles went unfilled, largely because a number of top-tier graduates turned down the graduate jobs offered to them. With the best graduates becoming increasingly choosy about the positions they take up, it’s up to companies to do more to snare their interest.
Furthermore, in stark contrast to past models of working, today’s graduates will cycle through an estimated 10 jobs by the time they approach their 38th birthday. Simply put, if a job fails to satisfy them they are likely to move on.
The key to securing top talent lies in understanding what this latest generation of graduates wants, and ensuring that the perks attached to the graduate jobs on offer correspond with this. A relevant benefits package can make all the difference.
Money Isn’t Everything
One thing that stands out about millennial graduates is that the prospect of wealth alone is not enough to attract them to a career. In fact, money ranked only at 7th place in terms of career priorities in a 2008 survey of 2,500 young people born between 1982-2002. This conclusion is backed up by the results of a survey of millennials conducted by the Harvard Business Review; wealth was pipped on their list of priorities by concerns about family, social life, health, education, and personal growth.
Millenials represent a growing proportion of the working population, and their priorities need to be met by companies aiming to attract and nurture graduate talent; by doing so, a company helps build it’s own future. Thus it is vital for companies who want to hire a graduate to look beyond the salary they’re offering, and to re-examine the benefits package attached to their graduate roles.
Rethinking The Work–Life Boundary
Concerns about work-life balance have long existed, but the boundary drawn between the two need not be concrete. In fact, a benefits package that helps graduates meet their ‘life’ goals as well as their ‘work’ ones is highly desirable. According to Talentsmoothie’s 2008 survey, the millennial generation have grown up dissatisfied with what they view as their parents’ lot in life: ‘work’ consisting of long hours at unrewarding jobs, and ‘life’ being whatever they managed to do in their time away from the office. Wishing to avoid this unfulfilling cycle, millennials are attracted to roles that actively help them achieve their personal aspirations alongside their professional ones.
So how can this be done? A range of benefits such as gym memberships, volunteer opportunities, flexible working, travel allowance, and family leave are likely to attract quality graduates and increase competition for a position. Several companies are already taking steps to match their benefits packages to changing employee priorities: the law firm Baker and McKenzie offers travel sabbaticals to employees upon completion of their training scheme, and employees of Procter and Gamble who need to look after children or elderly relatives take up to 12 months of family leave.
Some multinationals have chosen to go a step further, with the giants Virgin and Netflix removing limits on the amount of paid leave employees can take – so long as they’ve completed their work. In addition to being the kind of rewards-based system that appeals to young graduates, perks like this are attractive precisely because they help employees achieve the desired work-life balance, rather than perpetuating the work-life divide.
Companies like Netflix can afford to offer the salaries of millennial dreams, yet they have still recognise the need to supplement the money on offer with other benefits. This shows that they recognise the value of benefits in both bringing in and holding onto talented employees.
All Perks, No Work?
So, could offering perks not directly related to professional development prove counterproductive? Will they distract graduate hires from their actual work? The answer is no, so long as both company and employee share an understanding of what is expected of them. Establishing that the company has a ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality is vital. This is why rewards-based schemes – like having unlimited leave when the job is done or receiving a travel grant after passing exams – are particularly successful; they encourage employees to put their shoulder to the wheel while ensuring the office remains a positive environment.
And by offering the kind of benefits that appeal to millennials, a company will increase competition for a role and thus have a better chance of selecting a high-calibre candidate who will fit with the identity and culture of their office; one who will work hard and make the most of the perks available to them. It’s a win-win situation.